1999-10-09 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

The story on the front page of the last issue of The Wave has caused a stir among the same people who used to write whenever I mentioned Gerry Chapey (the elder) or Jimmy Sullivan. The front-page article and my column both mentioned that the two young men, who have confessed to the shooting of a man they were trying to rob, are top parochial school athletes. The controversy seems to stem from the fact that we identified them as such. I have to tell you that a story about two young men pulling a robbery is so commonplace in Rockaway that it usually does not merit page one. What does merit the front page is the fact that these kids have everything going for them (good school, athletic fame, etc.) and they still pulled the robbery. At the same time, recent news stories have focused on teen violence and the parochial schools have continually pointed out that it doesn’t happen to them because parochial schools teach "values." In the face of those denials, the fact that parochial school kids as well as to public school kids perpetrate violence is the story. Sorry, people, but writing about Catholic people who are in the news does not make one an anti-Catholic.

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It is no longer politically correct to tell the truth, to point out problems that face our society, particularly in the field of education. Herman Badillo was recently excoriated for telling the truth. He said, "there has never been a tradition of education" among the newer Hispanic immigrants from Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Central America. The fact is, he is right and that fact causes problems for the public schools, especially since many of those kids, despite the fact that they are illiterate in Spanish, are placed in bilingual programs and never learn proper English.

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Even with the silly season of musical cars over for this year, parking remains a problem on many streets. A resident of Beach 122 street recently found another car blocking her driveway. She wanted to do the right thing so she called the 100 Precinct instead of 911 (it wasn’t an emergency, after all). The person on the precinct switchboard told her that there was nothing the cops could do because she had a double driveway and that she should use her other driveway. Meanwhile, she scraped her car trying to get around the interloper. I think that the cops were wrong. If there is a parking condition where a car is blocking a driveway, the least the cops can do is ticket the miscreant. By the way, the person who owns the house knows who the driveway-blocker is, but she is too much of a lady to let me say who it is. Parking is tough and everybody has to cooperate. That means that people should not park in other people’s driveways. It also means that people who have driveways should use them and leave the streets to those that don’t. It also means that people who park should be careful not to take up two spaces. We live here because we like it here. Let’s not make it any harder than it has to be.

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Bernie Blum fought for years to get the city to turn DuBois Point over to the Audibon Society. He was instrumental in getting the job done and he was angry when his name was left off the press releases put out by the bird advocacy group. There were those of us who said at the time that the Society did not have the resources to take care of the land and to make it into a park, even a passive park. Years later, it turns out that we were right. The Point has become a dumping ground and a place where potentially-dangerous mosquitoes breed unabated. The Army Corps of Engineers now has to come in and take over what the Society could not do. I wonder if Bayswater Point, more recently turned over to the Audibon Society, will go the same way?

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Congratulations to Karen O’Mara Swett, who once wrote for The Wave, and her husband, on the birth of their son, Jonathan Erik Swett. I hope to see him at PS 114 in a couple of years.

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Rockaway made the newspapers once again. According to oreco, who seems to e-mail me often with tid-bits, the October 5 issue of the Village Voice advises people to take their dogs on the A Train to beach 44 street, where they will find "a secret canine paradise, an empty beach out in the wilds of Far Rockaway." The article calls it "the best dog run in the city." The only troubles with the article is that it is illegal to take animals on the subway (unless the animal is a seeing-eye dog) and it is just as illegal to allow your dog to run free on any of the beaches in Rockaway. So wrong, so often.

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Those who move to Rockaway (or, even from one part of the peninsula to another) will have a different telephone area code beginning this week. New residents will get a 347 code rather than the familiar 718. That is not the bad news. The bad news is that we all might soon have to dial 10 numbers to call our friends next door, even if you both are in the 718 area code. While the federal law requires that residents in an "overlay area, " which includes all of Queens, dial 1 plus the area code plus the telephone number for all calls, the State has been granted a one-year exemption. Beginning in October of 2000, however, we will all be wearing out our fingers.

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There was a Republican-sponsored bill in the Senate recently that would have made $1.4 billion available to local school districts (including New York City) to be used for reducing class size. Both Moynihan and Schumer voted against it. I realize that the other party sponsored it and that the vote was 54-44, strictly along party lines, but I have to ask why our two Senators voted against something that was so badly needed.

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The nay-sayers predicted that the new housing going up in Rockaway would never sell, and that they would wind up as "just more welfare housing." They are wrong. The homes on the old Playland site are going like hotcakes. According to local sources, all of those that have been built have been sold at market cost and that some of the homes yet to be built are already spoken for. At the same time, the 40 new homes at Water’s Edge in the Arverne Urban Renewal Area (from Beach 59 to Beach 61 street) are off and running. As of this writing, 12 have been sold at prices in the $220 thousand range. The first buyer at Water’s Edge was reportedly Michael Mark and his wife, Donna. Mark is an examiner with the State Insurance Department and presently lives in an apartment in Far Rockaway. I want to personally congratulate on his common sense for wanting to stay in Rockaway.

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When the EZ-Passes first became available, there was a rash of thefts of the small plastic devices from cars in Rockaway. Many people refused to attach their passes to their windshields as a result. As soon as the thieves realized, however, that the device was useless as soon as the owner reported it, the thefts stopped. Now, the TBTA is going to require that you have the pass attached to your window. If you do not, and you cause a delay at a tollbooth, you will incur a $10 fine and might lose your EZ Pass. A word to the wise should be sufficient.

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Frazier Osborne, the running sensation for Beach Channel High School, was named the Daly News Athlete of the Week last week, when he scored four touchdowns (on 135 yards rushing) and had three called back. This week, the Dolphin sensation scored only two touchdowns in a 21-0 win over a tough John Adams team. The Dolphins are now 3-0 and on the way to a banner season. Congratulations to Osborne and to second-year coach Marty Senall.

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See, I knew that Al Stabile and his colleagues on the city council did important things. Recently, for example, that body renamed a section of Cross Bay boulevard in Howard Beach in honor of George Meany, a long-dead labor leader. Stabile proudly sponsored the legislation because the plumbers union has a headquarters in the area. Good work, Al. Things like that are just what Rockaway residents need to improve their quality of life. Keep up the good work!

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Websites of the Week: For those who are C-Span junkies and want to know what is going on for the upcoming campaign, there is a site for you at cspan.org/campaign2000/ search. Those who read this column regularly know that I am a NASCR fan (Go, Sterling). Now, you can make like a racing driver, doing 175 miles per hour in a stock car at nearby Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Log into www.srexp.com for the details. That’s it for this week. Send comments and complaints to newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week and safe home.

 

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